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What to Do if a Loved One Dies During a Personal Injury Claim

Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Timothy Tonkin with Phillips Law Group.

What to Do if a Loved One Dies During a Personal Injury Claim
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When someone is injured, it is unfortunately not uncommon for that person to pass away due to their injuries before they are able to file a claim or seek justice for themselves. When this happens, regardless of where in the process the injury victim was when they were no longer able to pursue it, family members of the victim may pick up where their loved one left off.

When a loved one dies in the midst of a personal injury claim, their family members can file a wrongful death claim on their behalf. A wrongful death claim will pursue compensation for all the same damages that the injury victim would have filed for on their own, in addition to some damages specific to wrongful death cases.

It should be noted that when a personal injury victim dies due to their injury, family members might be eligible to file a wrongful death claim. However, when a personal injury victim dies of causes unrelated to the injury, the victim’s family can file a similar lawsuit known as a “survival action claim” instead. The damages which a family can receive compensation for vary between the two types of claims, and the family members eligible to file on the victim’s behalf vary from state to state.

To find out what kind of claim you should file, and who is eligible to file on behalf of the deceased, contact an attorney and take a moment to explain your situation.

Damages that can be claimed in a wrongful death lawsuit:

  • Medical expenses related to the death
  • Future lost wages and benefits if the person who died was a source of income for the family
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of care, protection, training, and nurturing
  • Pain and suffering before death
  • Loss of love, society, and companionship
  • Loss of consortium
  • The costs of a funeral and burial

Steps to take immediately after the death of a loved one who would have otherwise been eligible for a personal injury claim:

  • Coordinate with the deceased’s lawyer if they already had one.
  • End the personal injury claim if one was already filed.
  • Find a wrongful death lawyer to help you obtain evidence on the deceased’s behalf and begin a new claim.
  • File a wrongful death claim, or alternately file a survival action claim if the victim’s death was for reasons unrelated to their injury.

Cost is often a concern that prevents families from taking action; it may help to note that wrongful death lawyers generally work on contingency.

The majority of reputable wrongful death attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means a client will not be required to pay for their services unless and until the attorney is successful in winning the case. Only after a successful verdict would the attorney receive a previously agreed upon percentage of the winnings. Additionally, most of these attorneys offer free consultations. If your loved one passed away before they were able to successfully file a personal injury claim, seek legal counsel to learn what a wrongful death attorney can do for you and your family.

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